When the courthouse was torn down in 1981 amid a wave of protests and opinions on both sides of the issue, most people remember it as a short and hard fought battle. The push for a new courthouse, however, was a long and very arduous task. The first calls for a new courthouse began as early as 1959. A new collection of items donated, and ultimately accessioned into the Museum collection, sheds some light on the long process.
In a phone call last fall, Janet Anderson Voges of Minnwest Bank asked if the museum was interested in a group of documents found in the basement of the Lake Wilson Bank building. Among the many items there was a tabletop display board with the above picture and a set of documents meant to inform the public on a new courthouse building; a building that relied upon the passage of an upcoming bonding bill vote.
The display included floor plans and names of the Citizens Committee for an Adequate Murray County Courthouse. The co-charimen of the committee included Richard Kahnk of Lake Wilson, Dr. Dean Nywall of Slayton, and Victor Roth of Fulda. This was when Ernie Oldewurtle, Landolph Markwardt, Leon Sierk, Walt Silvernale, and Clem Smith were the county commissioners.
Our interest was piqued, and the staff pulled out a scrapbook created on the courthouse. Newspaper articles informed the picture with all the 1966 rationale for tearing down the old structure to make way for the new. There was no discussion the papers about historic preservation at the time, however, the bonding bill failed. These new documents will be featured along with many other photos and stories in the upcoming traveling courthouse exhibit coming this spring.